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18 Mar 2012 - Engine in

Another cracking weekend on the car and during the week I manged to spend the evenings coating the floor boards with fibreglass resin and then one side with a thick coat of chassis black paint. I also managed to get the frame completely welded up and added in some seatbelt mountings. Since my chassis is a MK1, there are no centre mounting so I made these up by welding a piece of 5mm x 50mm steel bar to the centre section of the frame. I will weld nuts onto these in due course so I can put the seatbelts in from inside the car and not fiddle with nuts underneath later.

In addition to the floor and frame, a couple of evenings were spent painting and then re-assembling the engine and by Friday evening I had the engine and gearbox ready to go in the chassis. So an early start on Saturday saw the gearbox in with a new rubber mounting and the engine gingerly lowered into place, again with new rubber mountings.

Once the engine was in and bolted securely I decided to have a play with the radiator and have a look at lowering it. The Madabout Forums had a thread recently which I posted asking for ideas and whilst a number of other builders are going for electric fans and modern style radiators, I wanted to see if I could re-use the Vitesse radiator, and just lower the mounts a tad. One owner, DaveCymru had done this successfully, so that was enough to motivate me to have a go. So I cut off the two mounting brackets and lowered them about 50mm, and re-welded them back on, thus lowering it enough to clear the bonnet I hope. I won't know for a few weeks until I get onto lining the bonnet up whether it has been a success or not, but I will at least have had a go!

With the engine in and radiator lowered, I still had the rest of the weekend left, as this was still only Saturday afternoon! The bulkhead soon got my attention and I bit the bullet and decided to recess the bulkhead to clear the 15" wheels. Instead of opting for the easy way (a large hammer and careful whacking), I decided to cut and weld the new curve. This is easy for the first side, but getting the two sides to match took a bit of fettling until I was eventually happy with the outcome, which was pretty good in my opinion!

If you look at what it was like in the picture below, you will see how much it has been recessed. With both sides done, I also welded up the other holes which won't be need: one for the warm air inlet to the car, and the other I made when I removed the bracket for the windscreen wiper motor, which is not needed as the Spyder has a wind deflector, and not a windscreen.

On sunday, pleased with the progress I had made on the Saturday, I started to make up the luggage compartment that I had made by modifying the frame. This involved cutting up what was left of the 8'x4' sheet of 18mm plywood I bought for the floor boards, to make the top, bottom and sides of the luggage space. This was then fixed to the frame using RivNuts (threaded inserts that are effectively rivetted to the frame, allowing a olt to be used). Once the compartment was covered I then coated it with fibreglass resin and put some fibreglass tape along each of the seams for extra strength - a massive overkill I reckon, but I wanted the practice with the glassing tape befor I put the body on!

Overall, it turned out pretty nice and will be a useful space which will be accessed from inside the cockpit, via a lockable hinged cover.

Which that drying, I noticed that the recessed battery tray that I put in was probably going to fill up with water as it was going to be prone to splashing from the wheels, so i cut a small piece of pipe and bonded it in as a drain using some of the leftover resin I had from the luggage compartment. That should hopefully keep the water from entering the cockpit!

So a good weeked in all, with the engine and gearbox in the car, and the bulkhead ready to bolt in for good. Sunday evening was spent entertaining the Mother-in-law, as it was Mother's Day, and after everyone had gone, I had a go at cleaning bezels for the guages and the interior grab handles. If you are cleaning chrome, then I have found over the years that nothing beats Autosol.

Next week I am hoping to get the bulkhead and frame bolted on permanently. This will allow me to get the wiring sorted and have a look at the heater to see if I can get it to fit under the dashboard somewhere, so we can at least have a little bit of warmth when we travel back form the pub in a summers evening!